Norichika is ‘Aoki Dokie’ and so is the Royals’ bullpen in home opener
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — What the Royals’ 7-5 win over the White Sox in the Kauffman Stadium home opener lacked in grace it certainly made up for in terms of necessity.
With the home folks a little skittish after the Royals suffered back-to-back walk-off losses in Detroit, the Royals took care of business at home with a 13-hit effort that likely eased concerns.
Thank heavens for Wade Davis and Greg Holland, each of whom came on to calm the seas in a sloppily-pitched and, at times, sloppily-played game. Davis especially restored order, working around a bizarre dropped fly ball from right fielder Norichika Aoki to pitch a scoreless eighth. Then, Holland set the White Sox down in order in the ninth, the only 1-2-3 inning that Royals pitchers mustered all day.
Between them, 1-2 hitters Aoki and Omar Infante delivered six hits and reached base seven times. Exactly what general manager Dayton Moore envisioned when he acquired them. And as a side note, a thumbs-up to the fan who flashed a sign "Aoki Dokie!"
Who knows how this game would have turned out if Alex Gordon had not pumped a three-run double to right field in the first inning. The Royals struggled mightily to score in Detroit, and some doubt was creeping in when Billy Butler popped out prior to Gordon with the bases loaded and zero outs. Was this going to be another agonizing offensive letdown? Nope. Gordon saw to that.
THE MOOSE SAGA
It’s getting almost sad to watch as Mike Moustakas turned in yet another 0-for-4 performance. He’s still hitless in 2014 after yet another fantastic (and misleading) spring training. Moose did not hit any balls hard, and also committed a throwing error that led to an unearned run.
Actually, one could view Jeremy Guthrie’s starting performance as one of the "3 Up" just as easily as he certainly gutted it out when he clearly didn’t have his best stuff. But Guthrie also seemed bent on keeping the White Sox in it. A seven-run effort by the Royals is considered an offensive explosion, and Guthrie (111 pitches in 5 2/3 innings, seven hits, four walks, a hit batter, four runs) almost wasted it.
It’s hard to get too critical of Aoki, but he does need to focus on such things as the innocent fly ball that he dropped in the eighth inning that brought the tying run to home plate. That is not how the Royals play defense.
You can follow Jeffrey Flanagan on Twitter @jflanagankc or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.